Barclays vows fresh course, axes 3,700 jobs

Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:55am EST
 
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By Steve Slater and Matt Scuffham

LONDON (Reuters) - Barclays' new chief executive pledged a fresh course for the British lender on Tuesday, axing at least 3,700 jobs and pruning its investment bank as he seeks to rebuild its reputation and boost profitability after a series of scandals.

In an attempt to distance Britain's third biggest bank from the aggressive, high-risk culture championed by his predecessor, Antony Jenkins said Barclays would put ethics above earnings at the bank, which has become a focus for public anger at the excesses of the financial sector.

"Barclays is changing. There will be no going back to the old way of doing things. We are changing the way we do business. We are changing the type of business we do," Jenkins said.

"I understand why there is cynicism and skepticism out there, given the track record of banks in the past. You should judge us by what we deliver in the next one, two, five or 10 years," he said at a news conference.

Jenkins unveiled his grand plan, dubbed "Project Transform", at London's Royal Horticultural Halls, an Edwardian exhibition space well away from the bank's skyscraper headquarters in Canary Wharf and just a short walk from parliament, where lawmakers have heavily criticized the bank for its misdeeds.

Keen to show change is afoot, Jenkins cut pay for investment bankers, halted speculative trading in agricultural commodities and closed a profitable tax advisory unit, which one lawmaker said advised clients on "industrial-scale tax avoidance".

Jenkins, wearing a bright blue tie and sober grey suit, gave a precise presentation but rarely strayed into awkward territory. He declined to answer questions about the future of Rich Ricci, head of the investment bank and one of the last remaining senior executives of the previous era.

"I can't predict the future," Jenkins said.   Continued...

 
The Barclays headquarters building is seen in the Canary Wharf business district of east London February 6, 2013. REUTERS/Neil Hall